Saturday, February 9, 2013

On translation, texts, and a conference

It's been an usually lovely summer here in my part of the world and I've been spending as little time as possible at the computer (and thus, am well behind with bloggy stuff). I've even moved my office out into the garden - one of the perks of working from home. So I've been enjoying the sun but work is also continuing apace. The draft of my PhD proposal has been reviewed by my supervisor and I've been given the go-ahead to put in the paperwork for candidacy. I have some minor revisions to do but I hope to have had my candidacy hearing/ seminar (basically, what I think you Americans call an oral proposal defense) by late March or April.

I'll be getting in a bit of practice for the seminar next week, as I'm off to Melbourne for the ANZAMEMS conference. The theme of this year's conference (always loosely interpreted) is Cultures in Translation. The paper I'm presenting will be considering language, translation, and the construction of identity in a case of treason from 1415. The trial and execution of the accused took place right before Henry V left England on a campaign that included the battle of Agincourt, and the revelation of treason makes for a pivotal scene in Shakespeare's Henry V. The case generated a series of intriguing documents, including confessional letters to the king (in English), a detailed but heavily massaged trial record and later chronicle accounts that turned the whole thing into a dirty conspiracy with the French against the English 'nation'. My paper looks at the operations of translation in the production of these texts, not only the translation of one language to another (e.g. the English of a personal letter to the Latin of the trial record and the French of the parliament roll), but also the translation of a man's story of his loyal service to the English king and realm into an account of his 'tainting' and 'corruption' by French gold.

Working on this paper and some related research over the last few months has got me thinking about translation in a wider sense. When in the past I'd perhaps only thought of it in its narrow definition - that is, taking the words of one language and converting them into another one - it has become clear to me that any act of translation is also an act of interpretation. Postcolonial scholars talk about translation as an act of power and from this perspective, there is some fascinating work being done on the politics of medieval chronicles, and on the tensions and power struggles generated by later medieval vernacularity. A lot of this research has been centred on what are broadly thought of as 'literary' texts, such as chronicles, romances, poetry etc. (although such hard distinctions as 'literature' and 'history' or 'fiction' and 'non-fiction' can be pointless, if not highly misleading, when considering medieval sources). However, I'm drawn to the much smaller body of work that is asking these kinds of questions about translation and power about 'record' sources - the official accounts of law, politics, and government. Trial records and similar texts have their origins in oral pleas before a court (or, even earlier, before a lawyer or advocate) and by the later Middle Ages court pleas were often heard in English. The act of recording such cases performed multiple translations - from one person's speech to another's written record, from English oral testimony to the French and/or Latin of the formal court documents, and then later, into the French language summaries of the year books and, sometimes (depending on the case) the rolls of Chancery (a mix of Latin, French, and English) or some other office of government.

One of the more practical problems in archival research...*
As I've been following the fortunes of individuals through these various texts, I've also been thinking about the acts of translation that I perform every day as a scholar. A number of the original documents I'm working with are irretrievably damaged, so there are inevitable gaps in the stories they tell. Sometimes, I know enough of the context or have enough other corroborating evidence to make an informed guess as to what the gap may have contained. Other times - and it is madly frustrating when this happens - the gap is just too big to fill. I have one letter of confession where the entire left side is missing, ripped or cut away at some indeterminate point in the past. Whatever mitigating circumstances the confessor may have appealed to, or whoever else he may have tried to implicate or blame for his actions, that information is probably gone forever. I know this, I do. But every once in a while, I find myself going back to that document, zooming up my photo of it (the original is in The National Archives), and trying to read something in the void. It's so tempting to translate that gap into a story, to make it fit the narrative I have in my head. But that would be fiction, not history. 

* This is not the letter I'm talking about here but is from a 1414 commission of inquiry into 'treasons and other felonies'. (The National Archives KB 9/205/3, to be exact. Photo by me.)

Friday, November 16, 2012

Latin revival and a little hope for the humanities

Given the generally gloomy (if not downright apocalyptic) tone of much recent discourse about the humanities specifically, and higher education more generally, this Inside Higher Ed piece on the burgeoning demand for Latin in Australian universities came as a heartening respite. What was even more surprising to me than the demand from arts and language students was the fact that students from the sciences actually narrowly outnumber their humanities fellows in some of the courses (and these are big courses, too – 100+ students).

According to IHE: 
 At the University of Western Australia, where [Rachel] Currie is taking a double major in biomedical science, introductory Latin this year has 129 students, an increase of 150 percent. Currie prizes Latin as a kind of master key of language that unlocks scientific terminology and opens up insights into English grammar as well as Romance tongues for travel in Europe.
But sheer fun can't be overlooked, and the textbook Lingua Latina, with its Roman family saga, helps teachers deliver. "Marcus beats up his sister, one of the uncles joins the army -- it's exactly like a Roman soap opera," Currie says.
(A Roman soap opera like this one, perhaps...)

Amusing comments about Harry Potter’s spells giving Latin a new mystique aside, this actually makes a lot of sense once you think about it. I’m reminded of the discussions that occurred during the interdisciplinary research workshop I blogged about recently, where we talked a lot about having to somehow map modern disciplines to often-noncommensurate disciplines in the past. In other words, in order to study medieval or early modern scientia, you first need to understand it on its own terms and in its own language. It seems that the same questions are occurring to a number of the science students interviewed in the IHE article.  After all, how better to really grasp the principals of physics and natural philosophy expounded in Newton’s Principia Mathematica, or the structuring of biological taxonomy first established in Carolus Linnaeus’ Systema Naturae?

Australia’s ‘Latin revival’ reminded me of a recent initiative here in New Zealand to teach philosophy to high school students. Not ‘pop philosophy’ either, but the real deal, like Aquinas, Boethius and Descartes. (Okay, it is more than possible that there is also a bit of Alain de Botton in there...) Naturally, the ‘education should be about teaching skills to get a job/make money’ crowd have got their knickers in an enormous twist over this one, but the students themselves are wise enough to recognise that the skills they are learning in logic, critical thinking, and reasoned debate will stand them in good stead regardless of future employment or career trajectories. In what may come as a shock to hardcore educational utilitarians, the programme is also supported by the Employers and Manufacturers Association.

[EMA] Chief executive Kim Campbell said if he found a job applicant with philosophy skills he would grab them. “Finally I might have someone who probably has an interest in what is going on around them as a human being. We're hiring a living breathing person, not a qualification. Someone who is thinking about who and what they are, why they are justifying taking up space on earth - we're hiring people's values and attitudes.”
Here at the frontlines of humanities education, the news these days often seems rather dark. These two stories brought me just a little glimmer of light and, dare I say it, hope.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


It has to be said that, while I’ve run quite a few half marathons and even a marathon in my time, there are occasions when I have quite the affinity for Newton’s First Law. Today was one of those days. When I got home, I collapsed on the couch with no intention of further movement. I had overdressed for work (merino dress and boots) because it was freezing and grim this morning. Then the office was too damned hot and the weather improved, so by the time I got home I was feeling all headachey and stuffy. The temptation was to stay right where I was on the couch and take a nap, but I’m proud to say I levered myself off it and went for an evening walk.
Mahoe - the wax-eyes and kereru go crazy for the berries!
No matter how many times I fight inertia and win, it always surprises me how much of a reboot a decent walk gives me. It was a perfect spring evening. The sun had come out and the air was cool but not cold, with just the tiniest breeze. I went up the bush track that starts at the end of my street where it winds to a dead end. The mahoe and kawakawa are going crazy with spring growth at the moment and the kiokio and spleenwort are dripping with new, bright green fronds. The track winds back and forth on itself up the hillside and between the trees the earth is studded with great granite boulders that give the whole thing a very sculptural look. At various spots along the track, people have built dolmens and little rock seats where you can sit and look out across the valley at the ridgeline opposite. 

We don’t have any chateaux or palaces in this country, but my track still has a few things to recommend it for a history buff. On the front side of the hill, facing the harbour, there are the remains of a quarry where, back in the nineteenth century, Maori labourers hacked out the rock used to construct some of the neo-Gothic monuments of colonial government. Slightly off to the side of another, less frequented, track, is a somewhat mysterious tunnel dug partway into the hill. This was thought to have been dug in an attempt at  gold mining, but an explosion killed one of the miners and it was abandoned. It’s said to be haunted by the worker’s ghost. I love a good spook story but I did manage to freak myself out a bit last winter when I was up there during a storm and decided to go and have a look inside it. It was only midday but the clouds were hunkered right down on the hillside (it sits at about 400m) and the mizzling rain made it look like a scene from an antipodean Hound of the Baskervilles. As a friend of mine once told me, I’m the only person who can scare myself witless with something I’ve made up! (Ask me about Pigman…)

Anyway, I’m glad I actually made the effort to get off my bum because I feel loads better now. I’m in the thick of a bunch of research/writing projects at the moment (PhD proposal, article revisions, conference paper…) and I sometimes end up sitting at this desk for hours at a stretch without even realising it. I’m really trying to get a bit more balance and get outside a few times a day, either for a long walk like tonight’s one or even just into the garden for 15 or 20 minutes of weed-whacking and tree-wrangling. I keep a list in a desktop calendar of all the things I want to get done on each of these projects each week (paper calendar – Moleskin actually, with a week per two pages) and then keep track of the time spent in half hourly blocks. To my generally somewhat chaotic self, this seems frighteningly well organised but so far it is working to keep  all my projects moving along at a steady rate (avoiding the temptation to spend all my time on the easy/enjoyable tasks and avoid the crappy ones).  It also helps me to see that even during weeks when I think I’ve done squat, I’ve actually accomplished some things. I’ve now added exercise to the list, mostly walking at the moment but trying to work in running a few days a week as well. (My days of running six days a week are behind me, though!) From what I can gather, this problem of balancing intensive reading/writing/desk work with the need to move seems to be pretty common amongst grad students and academics. 

What about you? Do you have trouble striking a balance? How do you fit exercise into your daily routine? Share your wisdom before the couch beats me again!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Notes for a method of interdisciplinary research Part II

This is the second part of a two-part series summarising my notes and thoughts from a recent ANZAMEMS postgraduate workshop on interdisciplinary research. This part starts with some examples of areas/topics of study that cannot be approached without crossing disciplines (in terms of bodies of knowledge and/or specialist skillsets) and then lays out a practical six-stage heuristic for approaching interdisciplinary research. The first part of this series described the last two stages of this heuristic: Determining the parameters of your research project (disciplinary, temporal,  linguistic etc.) and determining the skillsets you need to do the research (and where you can tap into these if you don’t have or plan to acquire them yourself).

So, day two of the workshop opened with a session by Stephen Clucas of Birkbeck, University of London, who talked about his research on John Dee’s MathematicallPraeface as a way to explore the question of ‘whose disciplines are we between?’ He started by asking whether, when we identify a domain to study in the past (e.g. the history of science, in his case), we are sure we’re equipped to recognise it in order to study it. As he pointed out, disciplines and divisions of knowledge that we now consider to be entirely demarcated and separate were often completely intermingled in medieval and early modern contexts. For example, early modern writers used a mixture of theology, medical knowledge and natural philosophy to explain the ‘soul’, while religious beliefs and outlooks were constitutive of the of the natural philosophy of people like Dee. Even when working with medieval or early modern disciplines that seem to map quite neatly to modern disciplinary equivalents, one still needs to understand the different ends and objects of that discipline in the past. (One example of this that has applied in my own work is the need to understand the very different ends and objects of judicial punishment in the medieval past, even if it is being administered within a legal framework of common law that is broadly similar to the modern system.)

After the scene was set with Dr Clucas' paper, Peter Anstey of Otago University presented a framework and practical guidelines for approaching this sort of research. The notes I took were weighted towards my own interests as a historian but I think this framework would be applicable across many disciplines. As I’m in the process of writing my PhD proposal at the moment, I also found it quite valuable for structuring my thinking as I work through the questions of scope, theoretical/ explanatory frameworks, sources and the practicalities of doing my research etc.

A six-stage heuristic for interdisciplinary research

1. Frame the research problem/issue

This needs to be very succinct and as clear as possible. A good way to start can be to set up a hypothesis and then go about identifying the evidence needed to prove or disprove it. (This is quite common for historical research.) At this point, it is important to be clear about what question(s) you’re asking but be aware that your hypothesis/question will most likely change as you start to examine the evidence and the research progresses.

2. Determine your philosophy of history

This element generated quite a lot of discussion amongst the attendees. Some of us are novice researchers (e.g. first year doctoral students) while others were more experienced ‘early career’ researchers who already had their PhDs and were working on post-doc projects, books etc. At first, the expectation of having a ‘philosophy of history’ kind of spooked me a bit, but it was reassuring to have Peter point out that as new researchers, we are forging our personal philosophies as we go along and they are probably quite immature and fragmented at this point, which is perfectly okay. ‘Philosophy of history’ turns out to be a pretty broad concept in this context, and could include things like Marxist, feminist, or postcolonial approaches, progressive history (seeing history as linear progress/advance over time), microhistory, and narrative history.

This question of philosophy of history interacts with the next element -

3. Identify your historiographical framework

This stage is aimed at understanding how your problem/issue is generally understood and taught, in terms of the major explanatory frameworks. Once you know what these are, you can then determine (in part, based on your own philosophy) whether you are working with or against them. Peter pointed out that for PhD students, this stage is most likely to involve simply articulating what the historiographical framework is, rather than coming up with new paradigms.

4. Settle on the genre of the project

For example, are you creating a PhD thesis? An article? An edited text or translation? This will determine things like the length of the project/finished product, the audience, authorial voice etc. This aspect kind of seems like common sense to me, but I have heard stories of PhD candidates turning up for the final defence and being told they need to cut 30,000 words from their thesis, completely alter the writing style to suit their committee, put the whole document into a new format/citation style etc. So I guess the key message here is to be clear up front, before you even start the work, what it is that you need to have produced at the end of it. (For PhD students, this would include things like studying your university’s regulations very closely to see exactly what is required of you, down to such minutiae as document margins and line spacing. Also, make sure you are clear on the citation style you need to use and use it from the start. It is way easier and less stressful to set that stuff up in your documents at the very beginning of the process than to have to change it at the end.)

Stages five and six were to set the project’s parameters (disciplinary, geographical, temporal, linguistic etc.) and to determine the skills set you require (either skills you need to have/acquire yourself, such as languages, or skills you need to tap into from other disciplines/departments). These two stages are quite detailed and were covered separately in part one of this series.

Thus endeth the lesson. I hope some of you find this useful!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Notes for a method of interdisciplinary research Part I

A couple of months ago, I attended a two-day postgraduate workshop on interdisciplinary research in medieval/early modern studies. The workshop was convened by Peter Anstey of the University of Otago and included sessions by Stephen Clucas of Birkbeck College, London, Peter Marshall of the University of Warwick, and John Sutton of Macquarie University in Sydney. If you check out the staff pages I've linked here, you'll see that these people (and the other workshop presenters) represent a variety of disciplines from within and beyond the traditional 'humanities'. Hence the purpose of the workshop: It provided a practical framework for pursuing research that incorporate methodologies, theoretical frameworks etc. from outside your own discipline.  Practical sessions on scoping and planning an interdisciplinary project were interspersed with papers where these researchers discussed their own experiences and application of interdisciplinary methods (including active collaboration with researchers outside their own fields).

Given my interests, I’m reasonably familiar with incorporating approaches and ideas from the allied humanities/social sciences fields that medieval historians frequently draw on – for example, literary studies, anthropology, sociology, art history, and archaeology. However, I was pretty interested to hear about some of the collaborations between humanities disciplines and the sciences. Peter Anstey, whose field is early modern philosophy, discussed his own collaboration with the botanist/plant scientist Stephen Harris to research John Locke’s seed catalogues. There was also a fascinating example of collaboration between a specialist in Shakespeare and a specialist in cognitive neuroscience for work looking into questions of individual and social memory in the early modern theatre. As one of the PhD students in attendance later framed it in a post on the Early Modern Experimental Philosophy blog:

The workshop made it clear that crossing the boundaries of a particular discipline is not only fruitful but even necessary when engaged in early modern research. Given that there is a natural characteristic of interdisciplinarity to the early modern period we must leave the comfort zone of our own discipline if we want to carry out our research projects properly. Most of us have actually done this without noticing that we are engaged in interdisciplinary research. The workshop brought this to my attention and I started thinking about the many ways in which my research would have been improved if I had consciously made an effort to enrich my understanding of any given topic by allowing myself to explore what other disciplines have to offer.

(Clearly, the same thing about blurred disciplinary boundaries – for example, between ‘natural philosophy’, ‘medicine’, and ‘theology’ – can be said of research into medieval cultures.)

This set the scene for a couple of extended practical sessions on approaching interdisciplinary research as a PhD student. Here and in a planned follow up post (Part II), I’ll summarise my own notes from these sessions to preserve the information for my future reference and to make it available to others who may find it useful. What I have noted here is what is most useful to me and I should emphasise that there were likely other aspects of this workshop that other students would have found more relevant to their own work. There was some discussion at the end of the two days about how the organisers can make this methodology more widely available (e.g. via a website or publication) so if you're interested, you can keep an eye on Otago’s Early Modern Experimental Philosophy blog for any updates.  

Part I – Determining the research project parameters

This forms a subset of a six-stage heuristic. I’ll write up my notes on the full framework and how this bit fits into it in Part II.

1) Set your temporal parameters

a) Choose the historical period(s) you’re planning to work in
b) Identify chronological overlaps and connections between periods
c) Identify the challenges posed by the chosen chronological period(s)

Challenges could include the need to master different languages, the need to get past barriers of terminology in order to accurately understand key concepts (for example, the term ‘science’ or scientia meant something quite different to people in 1412 than it does to us in 2012), lack of evidence etc. In my case, I’m dealing with a period and place where at least four languages (Middle English, Anglo-French, ‘French of Paris, and Latin) are in regular use in my documentary sources. As I’m interested in political uses of language – not just specific words or discourses but also the language strategically chosen to express them – I also need to come to terms with how I am going to treat after-the-fact written accounts of oral/aural speech acts (something I blogged about recently). Another thing to consider is how the historical period you chose defines to an extent your key terms and concepts. For example, as a well-known historian of chivalry has pointed out to me, if I chose a chronological timeframe defined by the reigns of certain kings, then I am implicitly approaching the concept of knighthood/chivalry in a top-down way, in terms of the way kings/princes defined and used it – an important and powerful conceptualisation of knighthood but certainly not the only one.

2) Set your disciplinary parameters

a) Select the historical disciplines you’re looking at – e.g. natural philosophy, theology, rhetoric etc.
b) Select the contemporary disciplines you’ll be drawing on to help interpret and understand those historical disciplines. For example, if you’re looking at early modern alchemy you may also be drawing on the modern science of chemistry.
c) Regulate any mismatches and determine how you are going to deal with them. 

The alchemy-chemistry example is a good one in this context, as early modern alchemy incorporates elements of mysticism, theology etc. that are utterly foreign to the modern lab science of chemistry.

3) Set your linguistic parameters

a) The historical languages of your sources
b) Contemporary languages - for example, I need to incorporate modern scholarship on my topic that is published in German, French etc. Depending on their topics, others might need to learn the disciplinary ‘languages’ of chemistry (periodic table, chemical formulas...), mathematics etc.
c) Identify potential issues and problems so you can figure out how you are going to deal with them. This could be anything from learning a new language to putting aside funds to hire translators or engaging in strategic collaboration with someone that does understand the ‘language’ (a mathematician, a botanist, a theologian etc. etc.)

4) Set the technological parameters

a) Identify any historic technologies or processes you need to understand – e.g. printing or book-making, manuscript production, alchemical equipment, medical equipment etc.
b) Identify any contemporary technologies that you need to use – xray, carbon dating, photography etc.

5) Set any other parameters, including e.g.

  1. geographical,
  2. thematic (‘skills and practical knowledge’, ‘material culture’ etc.),
  3. institutional (church? universities? medical professions? etc.)
  4. social –  is your research focused on elites/nobility? merchants? artisans? etc. To an extent, this also determines the next parameter, which is –
  5. sources - archival records, books, material culture, landscape etc.

6) Determine your requisite skill set

Given all of the above, what do you as a researcher need to be able to do or understand in order to complete your project? Obvious skills for historians include languages (modern and historical), archival research skills, palaeography, codicology etc. Someone studying historical boat-building, manuscript illumination, or alchemy (amongst other things) might also learn a good deal from some hands-on experience in the practical aspects, tools etc. There was a historian of early music at the workshop who told us they didn’t fully grasp the logic behind a particular musical notation system until they built a copy of the relevant historical instrument and tried it out themselves. An important point made at this juncture was that you don’t necessarily need to learn all these skills yourself but learn how to find and draw on the knowledge and skills of specialists.

Finally, on the first day of the workshop there was a brief session on ‘mapping’ disciplines other than your own. I thought this would be particularly useful for anyone in a humanities discipline wanting to get to grips with a field quite a long way from their own – for example, historians wanting to understand cognitive neuroscience or chemistry. So to conclude Part I of this series:

Mapping disciplines other than your own

This was presented as a structured way to go about finding the important and useful ideas in a field and understanding the wider context they evolved in (including any disciplinary shit-fights and controversies you may be unknowingly wading into). You can start with popular works, especially in the sciences (e.g. Richard Dawkins, Stephen J. Gould) to get a sense of the overall field, but be aware that these people are often writing outside their own speciality in order to make their works accessible for a lay audience. You then need to get into the academic literature in order to understand how the bit you’re interested in fits into the larger field. Start by identifying the main journals in the field(s) (asking someone in the target discipline in your university can be a quick way to find out which are the journals that really ‘count’). Then, hit up the review / ‘state of the field’ articles to start getting to grips key concepts and theories, how they developed, dissensions/ debates, counter-arguments etc. You also need to figure out if the particular theory or finding you want to draw on is considered respectable or pretty leftfield/wacky. Citation counts on something like Google Scholar are one indicator of this but they can be misleading. (For example, the person could be getting cited a lot in articles criticising their work/findings.) Again, review articles and talking to people currently working in the discipline are a good way to get some fast feedback.

Okay, well that was pretty long but I hope some of you may find it useful. In the second part of this series (which I’ll aim to get up within the next week or so), I’ll describe the wider six-stage heuristic that this parameter-setting exercise fits into.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Renaissance architecture: France 1, England 0

Désolée, mes amis Anglais, but having conducted a completely biased and unscientific survey during my recent travels, I am hereby declaring Francois 1er the winner in the 'I’ve got a better chateau than you' stakes. Seriously, look at Chambord:
I mean, no wonder Henry VIII was jealous. Okay, so he had to boot Cardinal Wolsey out before he could pinch Hampton Court but even with his subsequent renovations, at the end of the day it's still a rather grim-looking brick pile:
Sure, there is a nice view from the walled rose garden of the wacky collection of Tudor chimney pots (and that's Henry VIII's chapel on the left, where he married Anne Boleyn) ...
but they aren't a patch on the Disney-esque fantasy that is the roof of Chambord. (Though I'm sure that actually living up there amongst the chimneys and pigeon poo, as the lower-ranking courtiers were expected to do, was less romantic and a damned site smellier than Sleeping Beauty ever experienced.)

Hampton Court has also suffered a bit from later episodes of the historical version of 60 Minute Makeover. Here is the rather awkward result of William III’s (William of Orange) attempt at modernisation, c/- one Sir Christopher Wren (who really should have known better):
Yes, they have simply cut through the old Tudor building halfway down the gallery (right through the windows, in fact!) and cobbled a baroque monstrosity onto the side of it. The half-assed look to this part of the palace was actually the result of that timeless enemy of home renovation projects everywhere: the vision was bigger than the budget and the money ran out. (What would Kevin McCloud say?!)

Friday, October 26, 2012

Carolingian and Ottonian manuscripts online

A quick post and run today, as I'm just taking a short break from writing. My study has been getting a paint job over the last week, so my work has been a bit disrupted. Now I need to do some catching up! (But I'm very happy with my light, bright and funky new working environment. It's made such a difference to me wanting to sit in here for hours every day!)
Anyway, for those of you in/near Germany or with an interest in Carolingian, Ottonian and Romanesque history (or who simply love beautiful manuscripts), this exhibition should be a cracker. There is also a website where you can access digital copies of all 75 manuscripts. It's great to see more and more of this type of material being made available over the web.
Magnificent Manuscripts - Treasures of Book Illumination from 780 through 1180
Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Munich
October 19, 2012 - January 13, 2013

Exhibition Website

With 72 extraordinary manuscripts from the collection of the Bavarian State Library, as well as three exceptional works from the Bamberg State Library, the Kunsthalle of the Hypo Cultural Foundation presents a wide overview of the earliest and most precious examples of German book illumination.These 75 magnificent volumes represent some of the greatest cultural and artistic achievements of the Carolingian, Ottonian and Romanesque eras. Within this library’s extensive collection, the Ottonian manuscripts in particular form a unique nucleus that is unsurpassed worldwide. Owing to their extraordinary fragility, these highly valuable works can hardly ever leave the library’s vault. This exhibition of original manuscripts therefore offers a unique opportunity to discover thousand-year-old testimonies to our cultural heritage. 

For more information about the exhibition:

For those unable to attend the exhibition, digital copies of all manuscripts on display at the exhibition can be accessed online here: